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The Power of the Noncompete Clause — HBS Working Knowledge
... This experience got me thinking that my employment opportunities had been geographically circumscribed by differences in the enforcement of noncompetes between states—that with my highly specialized skills, the only way I could change jobs would be to move to one of the ten states that doesn't enforce noncompetes. (It's a bit of a continuum, where some states are stricter than others, but the ten states considered significantly more lenient are California, Nevada, Arkansas, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.)
But not everyone is affected identically by noncompetes. Our research shows that those with specialized skills (such as speech recognition engineering) are impacted more than those with more generally applicable skills. For instance, C++ programmers can probably find work more easily at companies that don't compete with their current employers. We also found that "star" inventors—those whose patents are highly cited in other patent applications—are also more strongly affected by noncompetes. ...
The noncompete clause is having interesting consequences for business. The outrageous success of Silicon Valley may owe something to California’s adamant refusal to enforce noncompete clauses.
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